Thursday, June 30, 2011


This piece was also written some time in 1996. It is about an actual personal experience I had while sitting in Otto's Malt Shop on 39th Street in Kansas, City, MO, sometime around 3:00 in the morning.

"You just look in their eyes."

And I knew what she meant but I didn't seem to want to admit it. Not even to myself. Now noticing that she has the faintest little crow's feet (I always did like crow's feet, even when I was young, and I'm not sure why) and tiny crinkles under her eyes, I mention something vague about how some women get lines around their eyes at a very young age.

"No. In. In their eyes!" she says, penetrating my skull with her gaze. Emphasizing each "In" by poking her finger almost "In" her own eye. As if she were trying to pull me in there with her. Just for my own good. So I could learn from the experience.

Little does she know, I have looked "In" enough eyes for a lifetime. I have looked "In" the eyes of sixteen year-old women wizened by abuse. I have looked "In" the eyes of forty-one year old girls who have been abused so badly and for so long that they have retreated back to innocence (or is it ignorance) and child-like vulnerability. I have looked "In" eyes filled with dollar signs. Eyes that scan men up and down as if they were scanning the mag-stripe on a credit card. I have looked "In" eyes full of love and caring and watched as they filled (almost like in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon) with seething hate as those eyes projected the crimes of fathers onto me. I have looked "In" eyes full of love and caring but, looking deeper, found only a desperate need for love and caring. I have looked "In" eyes and seen the wisdom of the ages. Unfortunately, sometimes those eyes don't see their own wisdom and so the minds and bodies do foolish and self-destructive things. I have looked "In" the eyes of a gay friend and known they were the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen on a man. Seen that his "orientation" was exactly right for him. I have looked "In" eyes that revealed knowledge and maturity and worldliness but, nevertheless, were much too young to be looked into by eyes as old as mine.

Of course there have been many eyes with no interest in being looked "In" at all. Some kept out my eyes specifically. Others just kept out all prying eyes period. Most often, far too often, I have looked "In" eyes and found . . .

. . . nothing at all.

Eyes can reveal a lot about a person. The least of which is the number of years since their birth. Or what old TV shows they will have seen - not in re-runs. But, just now, at this point in my life, at this time of the morning, I am overwhelmed in, exhausted by, or perhaps just plain sick to death of what I have seen in so many eyes that I focus, instead, on the tip of her fingernail. So close to, but not quite "In" the eye she now wants to reveal to me.

The contents of this post is Copyright © 2011 by Grant Sheridan Robertson.

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